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Blast of late summer heat hits Colorado, bringing near-record temperatures

NWS: Heat advisory in effect from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday
Sunflower_Aleksandr Eremin on Unsplash
Posted at 4:07 PM, Sep 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-06 19:46:18-04

DENVER — Near-record, and even possibly record-breaking, heat will continue around Colorado through much of this week.

On Tuesday, the National Weather Service in Boulder issued a heat advisory for Denver and parts of the Front Range from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday as temperatures climb into the upper 90s or low 100s for lower elevations and 80s in the mountains.

This heat advisory will affect Loveland, Denver, Greeley, Highlands Ranch, Boulder, Golden, Lakewood, Fort Lupton, Brighton, Eaton, Longmont, Parker, Littleton, Fort Collins, Arvada and Aurora, NWS officials said Tuesday.

NWS Sept 6 2022 heat map

The heat prompted Denver Public Schools to announce it would release students early, or cancel school altogether, for more than 30 schools on Wednesday and Thursday. This includes some schools that do not have air conditioning. Click here for that list.

Around the Front Range, temperatures will stay in the upper 90s Tuesday, with some places on the eastern plains reaching up to 100 degrees, according to the NWS. This is about 12 to 18 degrees above normal for this time of year, the NWS reported.

Record heat Sept 6-8 2022_National Weather Service

This heat, in addition to dry conditions, will lead to an elevated wildfire threat, the NWS said.

"Unseasonably warm temperatures combined with relative humidity values dropping into the lower teens across a large area of the region will bring near critical fire weather conditions on Tuesday," the NWS reported.

However, winds are expected to stay weak — no stronger than 25 mph.

The NWS office out of Pueblo warned that Wednesday and Thursday are expected to be the hottest days of the week in the region. Isolated thunderstorms and showers are possible near the mountains.

Record-breaking highs possible in Denver for the next three days

A few record highs were tied on Monday, including 89 degrees in Alamosa, which tied the 2020 record, and 78 degrees in Leadville, which tied the 1978 and 2020 record.

On the western slope, the NWS out of Grand Junction said rainfall is also possible each day this week in the San Juan Mountains, but record heat will persist for the next several days.

Across the state, the heat will start to dissipate late in the week and into the weekend.

The NWS said Thursday is the final chance for record-breaking heat this week. The record for the Denver International Airport on Thursday is 94 degrees, so the chance that this record is broken is "very high," the NWS said.

In addition to the heat, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment noted that ozone concentrations reached a point where they're unhealthy for sensitive groups. The NWS said from 4 p.m. Tuesday through 4 p.m. Wednesday, the following counties are under an ozone action day alert: Douglas, Jefferson, Denver, western Arapahoe, western Adams, Broomfield, Boulder, Larimer, and Weld.

On Thursday, Coloradans may also notice more smoke in the air — this is from the numerous fires over the northern Rocky Mountains, the NWS reported.

U.S. Air Quality Index_Sept 5 2022 4pm
The screenshot from the U.S. Air Quality Index's smoke map shows the current smoke movements as of Sept. 5 just before 4 p.m.

By that evening, a cold front will creep into the state, bringing much cooler temperatures Friday and Saturday. Highs on Saturday may not even top 70 degrees around Denver, the NWS said. Light precipitation is possible on Friday evening into Saturday.

Drier and warmer conditions will return on Monday with highs near 90 degrees.

The NWS recommends staying hydrated throughout the day and avoiding strenuous activities outside when temperatures are this high.